Some Individuals blocked from ordering Biden’s free Covid assessments in early web site launch

Take-home COVID-19 self-test kits provided by the District of Columbia government, which is offering city residents four free take-home tests per day, are shown in this illustration dated January 11, 2022.

Evelyn Hockstein Reuters

Americans on Tuesday began placing orders for free Covid tests promised by the Biden administration after the federal government launched the site a day earlier than expected – some complained on social media about being blocked from doing so were to order the tests.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the website is in the testing phase and will officially launch Wednesday morning. Orders placed during the site’s testing period on Tuesday are valid and will be shipped, White House spokesman Kevin Munoz told CNBC.

Each household, based on home address, is limited to four tests. The White House said last week it has limited the number of tests people can order to ensure broad access to the program.

Tests can be ordered here:

After a user clicks “Order free home tests” The website directs the user to a postal service order form where they enter a name and address before checking out.

The Postal Service ships the tests 7 to 12 days after the order is placed, according to the Biden administration. The website said on Tuesday that the orders would be shipped by the end of the month.

While some users said the site was simple and easy to use, others — particularly people who live in apartment buildings — reported problems in social media posts on Tuesday.

“Any website launch, in our view, comes with risks,” Psaki told reporters during a White House briefing on Tuesday. “We cannot guarantee that there will be zero or two errors. But the best technical teams in the administration and the postal service are working hard to make this a success,” she said.

The White House launched the site after a public outcry over the widespread lack of testing during the busy holiday travel season, when the highly contagious Covid Omicron variant swept the country. Pharmacies, large and small, have struggled to stock home tests as demand suddenly surged.

President Joe Biden said the government is getting a total of 1 billion home tests to distribute free to Americans. The Department of Defense awards the tests in coordination with the Department of Health and Human Services.

Demand for COVID reduction for leisure venues shuts down web site

By Maria Recio and Peter Blackstock, Austin American-Statesman, USA TODAY NETWORK

Almost four months after Congress approved spending on coronavirus aid to suffering entertainment venues, the money is now available. However, the pent-up demand was so great that the Small Business Administration website crashed, including from venues in the Austin area.

Venues looking to take advantage of the $ 16 billion program include Antone’s, the Long Center, the Zach Theater, and the Elephant Room.

The scholarship program was supported by two part-time Austin residents: US Representative Roger Williams (R-Austin) and US Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) and signed by President Donald Trump in December.

COVID-19 help website crashes

However, the online system for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program was so overwhelmed with applications on Thursday that the website crashed. The SBA closed the portal and was still closed on Friday afternoon when the agency tried to fix the problem. SBA spokeswoman Andrea Roebker said no applications had been received and agency officials would announce a new launch date when the system is ready.

Williams, who prides himself on the fact that the legislation he co-authored, which was first known as Save Our Stages, was non-partisan, is angry with the debut. “The rollout of the SBA. . . was torture for event organizers promised relief more than three months ago, ”Williams said.

A Cornyn official said Friday that the senator “wants this grant program to be reopened to filings as soon as possible.” Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday at Antone, Cornyn said that live music venues are among the first to close and one of the last to reopen, and that Congress “recognized the need to save jobs and businesses to keep alive so that when we got the virus in the rearview mirror, we could restore it. We couldn’t do this without throwing a lifeline to the companies and the people who work in those companies. “

But Williams is calling for a Congressional investigation into the program’s slow roll out.

“Under the Biden administration, the program has been fraught with delays and mismanagement at all times,” said Williams.

Some Austin venues have been forced to reduce hours

Elisbeth Challener, General Manager of the Zach Theater, was not that tough, even though she and her team were ready to start at 11 a.m. on Thursday and continued to try to enter their information as they were aware that the grants system was working a first- Come first serve basis.

“We are waiting with bated breath to resume the filing process,” she told the statesman. “We are cautiously optimistic.”

Since its closure last March, the Zach Complex, which has three indoor lounges, has had limited outdoor programs – including live music performances – and online educational programs.

“This is a lifeline for so many companies,” said Challener. The Zach, who is celebrating his 100th anniversary this year, had to lay off 80% of his employees last year, she said.

The SBA program is structured to provide grants based on 45% of a venue’s pre-pandemic 2019 revenue, giving priority to venues that have lost 90% of revenue. The maximum grant amount for a single venue is $ 10 million.

The Zach Art Complex is looking for about $ 2 million federal funding, which Challener says will be used to reinstall workers, pay actors for upcoming productions, make improvements to keep the theater space clean, e.g. B. Install air filter systems and pay other operating costs.

The first indoor show is scheduled for late November – Charles Dickens’ musical “A Christmas Carol” – and currently there are plans to require guests to wear masks, depending on guidelines from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

At the Long Center, Chief Executive Officer Cory Baker fondly remembers the last performance of Harry Connick Jr. over a year ago before he had to shut down.

“We quickly switched to online,” she said, and to outdoor concerts with “pods” for up to four people who were considered socially distant.

Performing Arts Center officials laid off 40% of the staff and she said with the federal scholarship, “The hope is to restore the team as much as possible.”

The Red River Cultural District is losing nightclubs

Cody Cowan, executive director of the Red River Cultural District, who represented 12 clubs along Red River Street before the pandemic began, said their number had dropped to nine with the closure of Barracuda, Plush and Scratchouse.

Red River venues, Stubb’s and Empire Control Room, held limited outdoor shows during the pandemic, while others, like Mohawk and Cheer Up Charlies, closed their doors all the time.

Cowan credits the National Independent Venue Alliance, which was formed last year to coordinate action between U.S. venues to help Cornyn and Senator Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., Pass legislation on closed venues in the pandemic – Help package included.

Cowan said that Austin city support programs helped fill this void, although the city’s limited resources mean these programs were “like spoons pouring water on a patient on their deathbed. That money stopped the venues from dying instantly, but this (federal program) is what will turn us away from life support. “

“Lots of paperwork”

Laura Mordecai and her husband Mike Mordecai own the BBA Management & Booking and the record label Fable. BBA booked the downtown jazz club the Elephant Room for three decades, and Laura Mordecai has spent much of her time in recent weeks gathering the venue’s records for the closed venue application.

“It’s a lot of paperwork,” she said. “Most of it is pretty straightforward, so it’s just about doing it. They want to see that you are a legitimate music venue and I’m glad they do, but it’s a lot of documentation. “

She credits the owners of the Elephant Room, Jean-Pierre Vermaelen and David Chamberlain, for keeping the club afloat during its 13-month closure. “It was so commendable that they were willing to hold on to it and not just close the doors,” she said. “They want it to open up again, so they got through the tough times.”

Mordecai said owners might “open” until May 18 at the earliest, with the caveat that they continue to closely monitor the area’s COVID-19 numbers.

Many Austin venues are hoping for a return to normal

Joe Ables, who opened the Saxon Pub in South Austin in 1990, kept the doors of the famous venue closed during the pandemic. His employees were on leave during this time. The Saxon Pub recently received help from a Long Center-administered city scholarship program and a fund from the New York Live Music Society.

The application process for the closed venue grants “was very good for a government program,” Ables said. “I’m impressed with the detail you put into this.” He attended a few webinar sessions where he understood what information he needed to gather in order to apply.

“They want a declaration of need,” he added. “The main thing they want is the stability of the venue. I think a long story like ours will help.”

Ables said he intends to reopen the Saxon Pub on June 1, likely with noted Austin guitarist David Grissom, who is resuming his longstanding happy hour residency on Tuesday. “We don’t know what to expect in business,” he added. “I don’t know if people will never come out or what. But I hope that in six or seven weeks we can be a regular venue again. “

CHIEF CHAT: New web site exhibits the place the cash goes for Cherokee Nation’s pandemic response | Information

The global COVID-19 pandemic has hit us all hard, but Cherokee Nation hasn’t sat back while the pandemic threatened our health and economy. With these efforts, the past year has been challenging, transformative, and ultimately hopeful.

In March 2020, the U.S. federal government passed CARES to help individuals, businesses, state and local governments, and tribes, including the Cherokee Nation, respond to the pandemic emergency. Cherokee Nation has responsibly spent more than $ 410 million of our CARES Act funds as part of our Response, Recover, and Recover spending plan.

Cherokee Nation used our funds to meet community needs such as housing, food security, and utility bill assistance. We have helped tribal people meet basic needs such as food, shelter, health care and clothing while the pandemic remains a threat. We have invested in protecting our employees from layoffs, helped Cherokee elders stay safe at home, and helped Cherokee students safely continue their education through distance learning.

We had to act quickly to get this investment into our communities, but we also want to ensure maximum transparency and accountability to the Cherokee people. It is for this reason that the Cherokee Nation Treasurer recently released the COVID-19 Report on Responding, Recovering, and Recovering Issues. It can be found at

The new website is a centralized resource for Cherokees to help ensure their tribal government transparently and effectively manages coronavirus recovery funds. It shows a breakdown of spending and the number of ways tribal citizens have received assistance. We are proud to have provided direct assistants to more than 130,000 citizens and to have helped thousands through critical programs created or expanded through the CARES Act.

As we vaccinate more Cherokees and leave this pandemic behind, we will continue to provide financial transparency and open communication with our citizens. Cherokees have the right to know how aid funds are being used.

I applaud the Cherokee Nation finance team for their resilience, adaptability, and professionalism. Despite the turmoil in northeast Oklahoma and around the world last year, Cherokee Nation has remained in good financial shape.

Further highlights of the past year are:

• $ 177 million for jobs so employees never missed a paycheck or seen layoffs in the past year.

• $ 54 million to individual citizens for emergency relief, clothing assistance, supplies, and other needs.

• $ 38 million for PPE and safety supplies, including development of Cherokee Nation’s N95 and N99 mask production facilities. Once the Cherokee Nation is operational, it will be the only N99 mask manufacturer in the US.

• $ 22 million for public health infrastructures such as new health clinics for employees, expanded shelters against domestic violence, and improvements to community water pipes and water treatment.

• US $ 19 million technology grants to help students purchase the equipment they need for distance learning.

• $ 27 million to improve broadband connectivity, including shipping over 9,000 wireless wireless hotspots with one year of free service to Cherokee Nation citizens without an internet connection.

• $ 27 million for food security, including the construction of five new food distribution centers, a meat processing facility and additional refrigerated trucks.

Federal CARES law and the Cherokee Nation’s Response, Restoration and Reconstruction Plan have allowed us to invest quickly in what will help most Cherokees. We have and will continue to act urgently and consciously in how we use tribal resources and the spending report reflects this. We will continue to provide detailed information on the Website about our efforts to protect elders, families, jobs, education, and the health of our people until this crisis is over.